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WARNING: The following review contains several spoilers.

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Issue One

Synopsis:

Issue One introduces the plot, and it provides basic information on all the characters. It is set in the year 2500, but the majority of the comic series takes place two years later. The War Pigs, a squad of elite, enslaved outlaws, are introduced in the midst of a three-way battle between the Confederacy, The Sons of Korhal, and the Zerg on a previously unknown planet, Atticus Minor. The significance of Atticus Minor is never explained, but as far as the War Pigs are concerned, it is important only because Arcturus Mengsk is on it.

After the War Pigs fail to kill Mengsk, their contractor, Confederate bureaucrat Tamsen Cauley, responds by trying to kill them with his private army. The War Pigs survive, and their leader confronts Cauley, who offers him a clean slate in return for the lives of the rest of the War Pigs. Fortunately, they mistrust Cauley enough to prepare for treachery. The squad is split up, and they are driven into hiding for fear Cauley will attempt to kill them again. In the last few pages, the story jumps forward to 2502, and events rapidly speed up.

Tamsen Cauley, now working for Mengsk in the Dominion, still wants to destroy the War Pigs, and he’s got an ace in the hole: former War Pig Cole Hickson is incarcerated in New Folsom Prison. Cauley makes Hickson an offer he is unable refuse: rally the squad to assassinate Jim Raynor in exchange for freedom.

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Cauley is a self-serving villain, so he is mistrusted by everyone. The writer's embrace Cauley's sinister ambition, and they showcase his plan to unleash Cerberus unit (do you remember the StarCraft demo?) against the War Pigs after Raynor's assassination. Surprisingly, Cerberus appears to be Cauley's private army, so they are independent from Mengsk. What exactly his position in the Confederacy is unclear because of this revelation.

Review:

The beginning battle is a handy plot device, but it fails to introduce all of the characters effectively. Most of the War Pigs remain talking heads until their characters are fleshed out in later issues. All we really learn about the characters are their roles in combat (if that). Turfa Dei serves as the explosives expert. Cole Hickson sometimes serves as a leader to the War Pigs, and he works as a sniper in combat. Nuura Joss is the resident pilot and tech expert, for she is the voice on the intercom telling the War Pigs how to get out of bad situations for much of the combat. Brock Valevoss leads the War Pigs, and he appears to be well respected by them. The final two characters, Romy Pyrius and Vin Iggins, remain largely unknown in this issue. In contrast, Tamsen Cauley has a more detailed introduction than any of the main characters.

This first battle scene is intense, but is also confusing. All you know about the War Pigs' objective is that they are trying to assassinate an important figure in the midst of a large battle. Some explanation of their mission would have been helpful. In addition, the art throughout all fights is less than clear. For example, the squad wears red armor in one of the battles, and so do their enemies. This causes a confusion in what are otherwise very enjoyable, gritty battle scenes.

The comic is intended to cover the StarCraft universe broadly, and it does a pretty good job of this. For instance, it shows how the power brokers of the Confederacy reacted to constant losses against the Sons of Korhal, and it depicts the negative effects of neural resocialization (expanded upon in I, Mengsk and other sources). The sheer quantity of basic lore introduced in this issue is impressive, but a great deal of it is useless. For example, the planet on which the first battle takes place, Atticus Minor, is depicted as highly contested. The Sons of Korhal, including Mengsk, are depicted fighting the Zerg with large Confederate fleet in orbit. The significance and relevance of this planet is never explained; its future is never described, and it is never mentioned again. Atticus Minor is just another planet to add to the lore databases with few significant details, despite everyone in the sector apparently wanting it.

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Issue Two

Synopsis:

Issue Two begins shortly after Issue One ended. The Warp Pigs are beginning to hunt for Raynor, and they are experiencing little success success. Their warp engines are destroyed after a skirmish with the Kel-Morian Combine. The squad limps to nearby space station for repairs, but the station is under the "new management" of pirates, who restrain their guests, with the exception of Romy, and impounds their ships. The rest of the issue depicts a fairly simplistic escape. Romy liberates his squad mates in the most brutal ways possible, as one would expect. The Warp Pigs return to their ship, which was repaired for the use of the pirates who captured it, and they continue the search for Raynor.

The character of some squad members is developed. Romy's drug addiction is introduced, and it is implied that Hickson is suffering from an undisclosed condition. He falls asleep during combat, and he is seemingly unaware of his surroundings as evidenced by his mistakes. In addition, an inexplicable vendetta against him is introduced, as well as a mysterious Xel'Naga Crystal mysterious crystal. stolen from the pirates.

Review:

The action is this issue is very gruesome, entertaining, and different from the action in Issue One. Instead of squads fighting against well equipped armies, all of the action is improvised in a intimate, small setting. There are neither power-suits nor goliaths here; it is just men on a space station. That doesn't mean it's bad, just less standard for a sci-fi universe. The biggest qualm with this issue is that each scene has its own little gimmick. From drug-powered soldiers tearing men apart to cyber-cats, the action is unfamiliar, if intense. The level of intensity is helped by Hickson breaking down at one point and going into a flash-back in the middle of a fight. This increases the tension while providing a little bit of information on Hickson's past with one of the villains.

The vast majority of the lore in this issue relates exclusively to the overall story arc. We don't get to see any details, such as a glimpse at significant rival factions to the Dominion, but we are provided with a good, general impression of the underbelly of Terran society. Groups like the Screaming Skulls are the sort of people we, playing as Raynor, will likely be dealing with in Wings of Liberty. This is further supported by the presence of a mysterious crystal on board the Screaming Skull's space station. Suffice to say, it is exactly the sort of thing that Raynor would be interested in.

This whole affair didn't change the story at all, it could have been left out entirely without much impact on the plot.

There are some minor lore facts included such as Grimson IV, which was mysteriously reached despite the absence of warp-drive, for the sake of repairing the squad's warp-drive. There are also some bizarre new weapons shown. They are referred to a cyber-cats, which are essentially mechanical attack dogs. However, the lore focus is on the characters. There is a trend, beginning in Issue Two, of each issue focusing on a different member of the War Pigs. This issue begins to hint at Hickson's past although it remains vague and mysterious. Also, we learn about Romy's stim addiction, and this theme will likely resurface.

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Issue Three

Synopsis:

This issue introduces the new lead for the War Pigs, a dirty sleazebag known as Denny Houston. He knows where Raynor is, but he will only tell the War Pigs squad in exchange for their services. He wants them to regain his wife who he refers to as "property." Hickson agrees to the exchange despite the protests of other War Pigs, most notably Dei. All the War Pigs seem unusually tense, and they are at each others throats regarding even minor grievances. The mission to "recover" Houston's wife is a success although it is messy because Iggins has a flashback at a critical moment. Shortly after Houston's wife regains consciousness, Iggins loses control of himself. He charges into Houston's room and threatens to kill him. The story behind how Iggins lost his arm is revealed before Hickson removed his weapon. Unfortunately for the War Pigs, Houston's wife grabs Iggins' gun, and kills Houston to avoid being forced to be his wife again. The source of all the strife between the War Pigs is revealed: the crystal Houston had brought on board turns out to be an alien artifact, which amplifies the emotions of everyone near it according to three dark templar who boarded the ship to steal back the artifact. They also deliver a warning to the War Pigs. Jim Raynor is a friend to the Protoss, and if the War Pigs harm him, there will be "consequences."

Review:

This issue serves to set the hooks for the rest of the plot. Most of the events that happen for the rest of the comic are driven by the discoveries made in this issue. Thanks to the presence of an artifact on the General Lee, the War Pigs all have their true colors shown. Throughout this chaos, Hickson seems strangely stable. This sets off all sorts of red flags for the foreshadowing-wary reader. One drawback is that it may actually be too clear. Hickson has been portrayed as clearly having something wrong with him, until now. Suddenly reversing that so Iggins, who has seemed relatively stable, loses his mind waves a flag too obviously saying, "Something isn't right here!"

The action in this issue is basic, but it excels is in illustrating the tension. The disruption of everyone's psychological states makes for sloppy work, so stressful scenes are the result. Iggins has a flashback at a critical moment in a job, Romy fires a rocket too close to the other War Pigs, and so on. All in all, the issue is very entertaining because all the mistakes made create an air of suspense.


Important lore is revealed at the very end, and is a huge bombshell for hardcore lore fans. The alien crystal Houston had on-board is revealed to be a Xel'Naga-crafted "energy fossil" or a "soul." It is also responsible for exposing all the thoughts and emotions that were already present in the crew of the General Lee. This implies several things, namely, the method by which the Xel'Naga have been preserving themselves, and the seemingly significant knowledge the dark templar have regarding the artifact.

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Issue Four

Synopsis:

Turfa Dei is the focus of this issue. The story jumps between flashbacks of him working for a revolutionary, anti-Dominion bomb-specialist to exploring his home colony. The colony was attacked by the Dominion who were searching for the very revolutionary leader Dei worked with before Dei realized he was nothing but a con-man. Most of the comic consists of him switching between flashback, which reveal his own mental issues, and the present, where he is trying to unravel the mystery of what happened on his colony. There is a substantial amount of one-on-one fighting with a ghost assassin. The story builds Dei's character. He is haunted by memories of visions once forced on him by a telepath, which he was only able to resist because of his own above average psi-level.

Review:

This issue supposedly sets hooks for the second story arc (namely around Leonid Celsus), and as such it is fairly pointless to the overall plot. It focus is almost exclusively on characters rather than plot. Turfa Dei receives the most attention as we learn about his past, but Hickson's issues are also further defined.

Turfa seems like one of the more stable War Pigs until now. He is clearly haunted by images from his past, and the guilt of his bombing victims is weighing on him. In spite of his issues, we see a "good guy" portrayed. He is willing to risk his life and mission to redeem himself in the eyes of the Agria colonists. We almost learn more about Hickson than Dei in this issue, though. He's all too willing to leave Dei behind to continue with the mission, and he no longer appers to care for his squad in comparison regaining his freedom from the Dominion. His issues are obviously as deep-rooted and significant as they are mysterious. The question is again raised of how he was so unaffected by the alien artifact when he clearly has problems.

We learn a small amount about psi-powers in this issue. Dei is a low-level psychic, and is capable of sensing and resisting other telepaths whereas someone with an average psi-index would be unable to. This proves to be an useful ability to have in his line of work as it seems to save him more than once. The planet that most of this occurs on is Agria, which is a farm colony which will be featured in Wings of Liberty. We may hear a few references back to this issue on that mission.

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Issue Five

Synopsis:

Several plot-lines are drawn to a close in this issue, and Nuura Joss has her background neatly fit into it. She was a Confederate Special Services operative who worked as a bodyguard for a crusading Confederate politician, Canon. She breaks the bodyguard "code" and becomes romantically involved with her charge. The mysterious villain, Leonid Celsus, recognizes this, and he sees an opportunity. He has Canon assassinated in such a way as to reveal his relationship with Joss. She is sentenced for treason and pleads guilty. Celsus plans to use her imprisonment to his advantage in the future. That flashback ties in nicely to the main story. Joss takes the initiative to find out if anything is wrong with Hickson via a contact we met in her flashback. She learns he has an experimental "sleeper" neural resocialization. Just as she discovers this, Hickson, and several of the War Pigs, are on the surface of a Zerg infested world looking for Raynor. They discover the underwater cave network where he has been hiding from the Dominion and the Zerg, and they are promptly ambushed by Raynor's Raiders who had received a warning from the dark templar. Joss is unable to contact the War Pigs, so she is unable to warn them about Hickson's resocialization. He loses his mind and pulls his gun just as it is revealed to the rest of the War Pigs that Hickson and Raynor were POWs together. Meanwhile, Trakken, who Cauley had sent to ensure the War Pigs die after they kill Raynor, gets impatient. Against Cauley's orders, he attacks the General Lee to get his revenge on Hickson.

Review:

We finally get to learn about Nuura Joss in this issue. She is certainly one of the more stable War Pigs, and she has no haunting scars on her mind. That isn't to say that she has a clean record, but she is the only War Pig who didn't fully deserve their punishment. Consequently, she feels less guilty than the others. She is not the most interesting character we see depicted this time around though, for Trakken is far more compelling.We don't know why, but he is extremely driven to get revenge on Hickson at all costs. This raises all sorts of question about his sanity and their past.

The fight scenes this time around are intense and outrageous. The War Pigs' daring escape is quite entertaining, and it shows of the capabilities of their CMC suits.

This issue was interesting from a lore fan's perspective. One thing we had never seen CMCs do is function as submarines although it is totally reasonable that they would. What is more impressive is that dropships can land underwater. The discovery of a "sleeper" variant of resocialization holds all kinds of potential for future lore. Anyone could be one, from Tychus to Horner, and it could be virtually impossible to detect them save for a few fairly subtle signs.

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Issue Six

Synopsis:

This issue opens with a flashback to when Raynor and Hickson were POWs together durign the Guild Wars. The Kel'Morians had been torturing Hickson for some time when Raynor arrived. Raynor talks about himself for so long that Hickson finally realizes Raynor is a good man, and he resolves to save him if possible in order to redeem himself. Hickson teaches Raynor to create a mental fortresses of sorts so that the torture impacts him less. Raynor claims this advice saved his life and sanity. This story is also described in Heaven's Devils.

In the present day, Hickson turns out to be under a kind of experimental neural resocialization that remains dormant until activated by a trigger, which is Jim Raynor in this case. He goes brain-dead and puts a gun to Raynor's head, but he doesn't shoot. Raynor realizes that Hickson may have been able to resist the resocialization by using the same technique he used in the Guild Wars. Just as Hickson is about to pull the trigger, the Zerg break into Raynor's secret cave and separate them. They find different ways to the surface; Raynor escapes with the War Pigs, and Hickson escapes alone. Their goal is to meet up with Nuura Joss to escape the planet before the Protoss incinerate the surface to exterminate the Zerg. Unfortunately, Hickson beats them to the surface, and once again, puts a gun to Raynor's head. Raynor refuses to let anyone kill Hickson, claiming that he is repaying a debt, and manages to talk Hickson down by reminding him that Cauley is the one pulling the strings. Trakken, still desperate for revenge on Hickson, is ordered by Cauley to let the Protoss destroy everything on the planet, rather than killing the War Pigs himself.

Review:

Hickson's past is revealed as a tie-in to Heaven's Devils, but this issue tells us more about Raynor than Hickson himself. All we learn about Hickson is that he is a confirmed sociopath who was generally a failure in life except when it came to killing in the Guild Wars. Raynor, on the other hand, is shown to have always been a good, if more naive, man even in the Guild Wars where he met Hickson. He tends to rub off on people as well. The self identified sociopath Hickson even softens after hearing Raynor's life story, and he attempts to save him. Another interesting thing we learn about Raynor is his moral philosophy. He doesn't worry so much about strict lists of right and wrong so much as "where to draw the line," as his father taught him.

We get to see some nice Zerg-on-Terran combat this time. A hydralisk devours one of Raynor's men in a single bite. Besides that, it is a pretty standard gun slinging versus giant bugs affair. Meanwhile, Joss is impossibly acrobatic in a firefight on the General Lee. Not that it creates too much of a disconnect between reader and artist, but her acrobatics do induce a roll of the eyes.

The most lore we see here is that Protoss are still actively engaged in destroying the Zerg by glassing entire planets. Kerrigan is apparently not particularly concerned by it or she would probably be able to stop the process with relative ease, but she allows it to run its course. This is very poor map-sense on her part!

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Issue Seven

Synopsis:


The final issue finally shows us why Trakken has such a grudge against Hickson. It also displays a bit of Romy's past at a time when he abandoned his squad mates to save his own life. Trakken's grudge against Hickson drives him to land on the planet, mid-incineration, so he can kill Hickson himself. The dropship he took the the planet's surface provides Raynor and the War Pigs with an exit, but only after a fight between the Cerberus troops and the War Pigs who are low on ammo. Romy and Trakken both die, but there are no other casualties. The final scene depicts the War Pigs and Raynor discussing their future. The War Pigs resolve to go on a suicide mission to kill Cauley, and the the hooks for the next story arc are established.

Review:

Finally, we get Romy's story, which is unfortunately worthless. He may be a War Pig, but he is a relatively minor character in the overall plot. As a result, throwing in his flashback at the end seems tagged on as it doesn't really contribute to anything. It is unremarkable anyway, for he feels guilty because he once sold out a team he worked with. This makes it more dramatic when he is given the option to sell out the War Pigs, but it is nothing spectacular. We finally learn about Trakken's past with Hickson as well, but his thirst for vengeance only serves to convince us Trakken that is crazy to hold as hardcore a grudge as he did.

This issue is full of intense action from beginning to end. The whole thing is essentially a showdown between Trakken and Cerberus versus Raynor and the War Pigs. Meanwhile impending doom is approaching in the form of a Protoss orbital incineration of the planet.

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Upcoming Graphic Novel

Simon Furman confirmed last month that he is, in fact, writing the second arc into a graphic novel. The delay was a result of an editorial change (at least part of which involves writing graphic novels solely, without splitting the story up into comic issues). He has promised to showcase at least two of the universe's major villains and to shake the universe forever. There was quite a bit of foreshadowing about Leonid Celsus, a major character in the second arc. The release date of the graphic novel is unknown.

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